Rory MacDonald backs Robert Whittaker as top UFC prospect
Rory MacDonald has tipped 22 year old Australian Robert Whittaker to have a bright future in the UFC
Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images
Ahead of his clash with Jake Ellenberger this weekend, UFC welterweight phenom Rory MacDonald has given high praise to TUF: Smashes winner Robert Whittaker, tipping the 22 year old Australian to have a bright future in the UFC.
In an exclusive interview with MMA Kanvas, MacDonald said that Whittaker has been a key part of his training camp based at Tristar gym in Montreal, Canada. He also said that he believes Whittaker can be very successful in the UFC’s welterweight division.
“Robert (Whittaker) is awesome, I did a lot of training with him for this fight and I really liked having him here, he's a good guy and a great fighter,” explained MacDonald.
“I think he has a tonne of potential. He's very skilled and really athletic, a really great training partner for me and I think he's got a bright future in the sport,” he added.
Having a solid team is important to MacDonald, who had a run of poor health with injuries preventing him from competing in the cage. Rory credits some small changes in the way he trains for his return to the Octagon on Sunday.
“They're (injuries) always a pain in the arse. I feel like I'm getting a little bit better at avoiding injuries in my training. Right now I'm just happy to be healthy and being able to focus on just fighting for a change,” he said.
"Focused" is a good word to define the demeanour of Rory MacDonald. Despite some well-documented animosity between himself and opponent Ellenberger that began on social media, MacDonald insists that he is unaffected by the talk.
“I'm not too worried about any of the words. I'm just taking the fight like any other. I'm not distracted or focused on any trash talk, it's just going to be another fight,” said the Canadian welterweight.
Coming out and putting on a good performance is what MacDonald seeks to do on Sunday, deciding where he goes from there is largely dependent on how the fight plays out.
“I think it's performance based; if it's a good performance it'll move me up, if it's a bad performance it'll keep me where I am or push me lower,” he noted.
In the eyes of many, MacDonald’s fast rising star can only reach a certain height - given that the current ruler of the 170 pound (77kg) division is his friend and training partner. Despite this notion, he held strong in saying that he wouldn't fight Georges St. Pierre.
“I'd just look to be fighting top ten fighters and wait for my chance at the belt.” he explained.
What comes next for MacDonald could be a highly anticipated rematch with former interim-welterweight champ Carlos Condit, who handed Rory the only loss of his career back in 2010.
“Definitely, that's a fight (Condit) I've wanted and one that I will hopefully get one day,” he said.
Many onlookers have noted the imposing physical profile sported by MacDonald and have questioned whether he may be more suited to the middleweight division down the track.
Rory gave us his thoughts on cutting weight and whether or not he's looking to stick around in the division given there are only so many fights to make for him while GSP is king.
“I think I'm pretty average weight-wise. I'd definitely consider moving up when the time is right depending on where I'm at with my career,” he stated.
In recent times, MacDonald’s stone-cold, icy demeanour has been highlighted by MMA fans and media alike. When prompted, MacDonald sought to divulge exactly why he thinks people see him that way and how his expressionless attitude to fighting came to be.
“I think it's the way it comes across in the media.. Some of them are a bit boring and if I'm in a mood where I'm intense and thinking about fighting I'll come off a little aggressive or whatever. It's just basically my moods because I'm a pretty happy guy and a good teammate, I guess it just doesn't come across in the media as much as I'd like it to,” explained MacDonald.
MacDonald (14-1), is coming off a unanimous decision win and will be looking to make it five wins in a row in the co-main event this weekend. Ellenberger (29-6) on the other hand is looking to work his way back up the pecking order after going on a two fight win streak following his TKO loss to Martin Kampmann in June of 2012.
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